Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Why cuddling up to Orange Order would be a mistake for the DUP

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr holds a police officer's helmet
Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr holds a police officer's helmet
ACC Kerr with a shield belonging to one of his officers
Riots kick off at Woodvale as the parades are not allowed to pass Ardoyne. A man on top of a police landrover gets blown off by the water cannon. DAVID FITZGERALD/PACEMAKER PRESS
A petrol bomb hits riot police after it was thrown by loyalist rioters in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
A petrol bomb burns on the ground in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
A burnt car sits on the O'Neill Road in Newtownabbey
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast on Sunday. The protest follows two nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast on Sunday. The protest follows two nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast on Sunday. The protest follows two nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast on Sunday. The protest follows two nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast on Sunday. The protest follows two nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists confront police in north Belfast, after an Orange July 12 parade was stopped from passing a Nationalist area. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 12, 2013. See PA story ULSTER Parades. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Loyalists confront police in north Belfast, after an Orange July 12 parade was stopped from passing a Nationalist area. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 12, 2013. See PA story ULSTER Parades. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Press Eye - Belfast - Sunday 14th July 2013 Loyalists peacefully protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast this evening. The protest follows 2 nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday The marching season in Northern Ireland is a period of events from April to August, with the highpoint on 12 July when Orangemen march to commemorate William of Orange's victory over the Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists confront police in north Belfast, after an Orange July 12 parade was stopped from passing a Nationalist area. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 12, 2013. See PA story ULSTER Parades. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Press Eye - Belfast - Sunday 14th July 2013 Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast this evening. The protest follows 2 nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday The marching season in Northern Ireland is a period of events from April to August, with the highpoint on 12 July when Orangemen march to commemorate William of Orange's victory over the Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists hurled bricks and other missiles at police during violence clashes on the Twelfth of July.
PSNI aerial footage of Woodvale riot on Twelfth of July
PSNI arial footage of Woodvale riot on twelth of July
13/7/13 PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST. A loyalist protestor sits on the road as nearby heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers stand firm as serious trouble broke out this evening in the Woodvale road area near Ardoyne. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
13/7/13 PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST. Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers stand firm as serious trouble broke out this evening in the Woodvale road area near Ardoyne. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
13/7/13 PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST. Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers stand firm as serious trouble broke out this evening in the Woodvale road area near Ardoyne. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
13/7/13 PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST. Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers stand firm as serious trouble broke out this evening in the Woodvale road area near Ardoyne. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
13/7/13 PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST. Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers stand firm as serious trouble broke out this evening in the Woodvale road area near Ardoyne. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
13/7/13 PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST. Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers stand firm as serious trouble broke out this evening in the Woodvale road area near Ardoyne. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
Violence broke out in the Woodvale area of Belfast after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers were not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road at Ardoyne shops that separates nationalist and loyalist communities
Loyalists confronted police in North Belfast on the Twelfth of July, following the decision to bar Orangemen from walking through Ardoyne
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds was injured in violence that followed an Orange Order parade. Police say Mr Dodds was knocked unconscious and taken away in an ambulance. Earlier he had appealed for calm after trouble broke out when the Orange parade was stopped on the Woodvale Road and was hit with a water cannon. Picture: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers faced serious trouble last night as they enforced the Parades Commission's ruling that Orange bandsmen could not return past the nationalist Ardoyne area after the annual 12th of July parade. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker
Press Eye - Belfast - Friday 12th July 2013 Loyalist bandsmen and Orangemen pictured in the Woodvale area of west belfast with officers from the PSNI after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers are not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road, at Ardoyne shops, that separates nationalist and loyalist communities. PSNI help an injured Loyalist on the Woodvale Road Thousands of Orangemen are taking part in the annual Twelfth of July parades across Northern Ireland. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Violence broke out in the Woodvale area of Belfast after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers were not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road at Ardoyne shops that separates nationalist and loyalist communities
Violence broke out in the Woodvale area of Belfast after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers were not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road at Ardoyne shops that separates nationalist and loyalist communities
Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers faced serious trouble last night as they enforced the Parades Commission's ruling that Orange bandsmen could not return past the nationalist Ardoyne area after the annual 12th of July parade. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker
Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers faced serious trouble last night as they enforced the Parades Commission's ruling that Orange bandsmen could not return past the nationalist Ardoyne area after the annual 12th of July parade. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker
Loyalist bandsmen and Orangemen pictured in the Woodvale area of west belfast with officers from the PSNI after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers are not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road, at Ardoyne shops, that separates nationalist and loyalist communities.
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD Riots kick off at Woodvale as the parades are not allowed to pass Ardoyne.
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD Riots kick off at Woodvale as the parades are not allowed to pass Ardoyne.
Loyalists clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
Loyalists clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further. A loyalist uses a captured police baton on police lines.
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD Riots kick off at Woodvale as the parades are not allowed to pass Ardoyne.
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD Riots kick off at Woodvale as the parades are not allowed to pass Ardoyne.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. An injured officer is taken away as Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. A Loyalist at police lines on Woodvale Road where the parade was stopped from going any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. An injured officer is taken away as Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. A Loyalist at police lines on Woodvale Road where the parade was stopped from going any further.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
A man is injured and taken away in a police landrover at the junction of Fedrick street and York Road in Belfast as tensions run hight between loyalists and Police on the 12th evening. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/KEVIN MCAULEY MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA
A man is injured and taken away in a police landrover at the junction of Fedrick street and York Road in Belfast as tensions run hight between loyalists and Police on the 12th evening. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/KEVIN MCAULEY MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. . At least two police officers have been injured. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. . At least two police officers have been injured. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Loyalist bandsmen and Orangemen pictured in the Woodvale area of west belfast with officers from the PSNI after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers are not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road, at Ardoyne shops, that separates nationalist and loyalist communities.
Loyalist bandsmen and Orangemen pictured in the Woodvale area of west belfast with officers from the PSNI after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers are not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road, at Ardoyne shops, that separates nationalist and loyalist communities.
Loyalist bandsmen and Orangemen pictured in the Woodvale area of west belfast with officers from the PSNI after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers are not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road, at Ardoyne shops, that separates nationalist and loyalist communities.
Loyalist bandsmen and Orangemen pictured in the Woodvale area of west belfast with officers from the PSNI after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers are not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road, at Ardoyne shops, that separates nationalist and loyalist communities.
A policeman is injured in disturbances with loyalists.
A policeman is injured in disturbances with loyalists.
A policeman is injured in disturbances with loyalists.
Loyalists clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further. A loyalist uses a captured police baton on police lines.
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD Riots kick off at Woodvale as the parades are not allowed to pass Ardoyne.
A total of 32 police officers were injured in violence in Belfast on Friday
Police officer is injured in north Belfast, after an Orange July 12 parade was stopped from passing a Nationalist area. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 12, 2013. See PA story ULSTER Parades. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Police fight back flames during rioting in north Belfast

Normally the first thought of governing parties is to support the police. In most societies, three nights of rioting in which 45 officers were injured would be met with straightforward condemnation – with any criticisms coming far down the list of concerns.

We saw an exception to the rule yesterday when a DUP delegation visited police headquarters to discuss the rioting which accompanied the PSNI's efforts to enforce a Parades Commission determination.

As they emerged, the politicians sounded like cheerleaders for the Orange Order and its concerns, not the critical friends it needs at this moment of crisis.

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr started the morning by explaining the seriousness of the attacks on his officers. It had, he said in one interview, been "attempted murder". The PSNI displayed helmets hit by swords intended for use in Orange ceremonies, it told how officers had been attacked with petrol bombs, masonry and other missiles.

A DUP MP, Nigel Dodds, had even been felled by a missile himself.

None of this was raised by the party in a statement issued after the meeting with Mr Kerr.

Instead Nelson McCausland, the Executive minister who actually accompanied Mr Dodds to hospital in an ambulance, criticised the police for not doing enough to protect Orange marches, as did his colleague Gavin Robinson, the former Lord Mayor of Belfast.

The DUP, normally a law and order party, appears to have stuck closely to the agenda set out in an Orange Order statement issued shortly before the meeting.

There are obvious reasons for this synergy. The Orange Order is thought to have around 30,000 members. In 2009 the figure was 34,538, down from 93,447 in 1968 and falling steadily.

This is a shrinking but still considerable body of opinion. One Orange source believes that at least 80% of Orangemen and their families vote in elections, compared to 55% of the population as a whole. Following an Orange agenda could be tempting if you are a unionist in a swing seat, like North or East Belfast. Yet getting too close, and letting the Orange dictate the political agenda, is to flirt with danger and defeat.

The Order has been dragged kicking and screaming into every century since 1800. It opposed Catholic emancipation, the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland and even the introduction of the secret ballot. It has also been opposed to nearly every successful political reform since partition.

Yet it sees itself as the conscience of unionism and spelt out a contemporary political agenda in Twelfth speeches.

It includes stopping a peace and reconciliation centre at the Maze. That would mark a major U-turn for the DUP, which would necessitate a public eating of words by all the party's major figures from Peter Robinson down.

It would also put severe strains on the DUP's relationship with Sinn Fein and, together with other items on the Orange agenda, would put a question mark over the devolved institutions. The Order seems satisfied that the border is here to stay – "the siege is lifted" said the Rev Mervyn Gibson – but it wants to move on to a culture war with nationalists, secularists and liberals for the soul of Northern Ireland.

The culture war seems to involve more Union flags, less funding for the GAA, no gay marriage and no shared future until the Order can march where it likes. Those who aren't with the Order are against it; the Alliance Party was, for instance, described on a Twelfth platform as "Quislings".

The problem is that projects for unionist unity also tend to produce nationalist unity, and to promote suspicion between the two communities. That isn't good news for society in general; the Troubles of the last century started in a period when society was polarised between nationalism and unionism. The additional problem for unionism is that it cannot dominate again. The two communities are neck and neck in terms of numbers and there is an increasing centre ground which could hold the balance of power in disputes, as Alliance did in Belfast City Council over the flag issue.

Cuddling up to the Orange Order for immediate political advantage would be very short-sighted tactic for the DUP and would threaten its political dominance. It would shed some of the moderate voters it has attracted in recent years, perhaps more than it would gain.

It would be wiser to hose down the Order's enthusiasm and spell out the political realities. That involves accepting that Parades Commission rulings are legally binding unless and until a replacement is found.

It will involve accepting that unionists can only govern Northern Ireland with the agreement of others – which involves compromise and acceptance of legal authority when agreement cannot be reached.

Otherwise, we are all in trouble.

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